Nijmegen (NL)-Goffertpark-2 June 2019-Day 2
The Londoners of Savage Messiah opened the second festival day on the main stage with some traditional heavy metal with a twist of Bay Area thrash. Lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Silver apologized for his somewhat weaker vocals due to the fact that he’s been under the weather for a few days. Yet, his illness had hardly any effect on his excellent stage presentation, except maybe for a somewhat raspy voice during the first couple of songs. The emphasis of Savage Messiah’ setlist was mainly on their recently released album ‘Demons’ (7 songs to be precise), including the Chris Stapleton cover ,,Parachute”. During the song ,,The Lights Are Going Out” a gentle and pleasant breeze rose over the festival grounds that felt like a relief as the outside temperature quickly rose to almost unbearable heights. All in all, Savage Messiah proved to be a more than excellent opener on the main stage.
Unfortunately, the US-based death metallers Allegaeon had to cancel their appearance at FortaRock. The FortaRock organization found, at the eleventh hour, a replacement for them in the American mathcore band Car Bomb. I have to admit that Car Bomb’s chaotic style of metal was a bit too much for me, so after hearing the song ,,Constant Sleep’’ I went straightaway to Hank’s Garage to witness the show by the Dutch band Rhinorino. I’m glad that I took this decision because Rhinorino’s, self-proclaimed “sexy stoner rock ’n roll”, was anything but misleading. Eye-catcher was the hard-hitting and gorgeous looking drummer/singer Suzanne ‘Susie Q’ Muller (who also happened to be pregnant!). But also the guitarist and singer Pim van Ham and the wild head-banging bassist Jorn Voshol (who only had a week to learn his bass parts!) attracted the necessary attention with their energetic stage presence.
While the mercury in the temperature meter slowly but steadily rose to a whopping 30º Celsius, the festival ground filled up with fans who voluntarily love to immerse themselves in a fairy-tale world, where unicorns, goblins and magical dragons are the most common things in every day’s life or with other words; Gloryhammer! One thing’s for sure; Gloryhammer is immensely popular judging by the sheer amount of young fans who wore a Gloryhammer t-shirt during the second-day of FortaRock. I’m certain that Gloryhammer and their fans don’t take themselves too seriously but to be honest I found Gloryhammer’s show a bit over the top. That being said; Thomas Winkler‘s stage presence reminded me of Bruce Dickinson’s stage presence, which is a compliment.
I decided to skip Decapitated who performed in the tent in favour of the Canadian progressive metal band Intervals in Hank’s Garage. However, of the 40 minutes that had been assigned to them, the band only used 30 minutes to showcase their complex yet easy-to-listen proggy djent-like fusion and that was a bit of a shame because this relatively young band made a very positive impression on me.
It seemed that most festival goers needed some time off to cool down from the scorching heat judging by the low number of people who stood in the crowd during Kadavar‘s show. Or maybe it was just that there was simply little to none appreciation for the old school retro sound of Kadavar. Be it as it may, those who chose to skip this show, for whatever reason, missed out on an excellent show by this hairy three-piece-band. There are not many bands who give their drummer such prominent space in front of the stage. Well, Kadavar does it and rightfully so because it was a real treat to watch drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt torture his drumkit throughout the show. All in all an amazing show by an amazing band!
I had not studied the history and recent controversy and drama surrounding the Polish black metal band Batushka in advance. So which incarnation of the band would be playing on the tent stage was unbeknownst to me at the beginning of the show. That being said, I was intrigued what kinda show awaited me when I saw the impressive production with its many religious attributes on stage. It all still looked pretty impressive when the band members, who were all dressed in masked monk clothes, entered the stage one by one and quietly lit some candles. The chief monk (in all probability Bartłomiej “Bart” Krysiuk) took a seat behind an altar but hardly showed any significant movement from the moment the band started to play. We didn’t have to expect too much movement from the rest of the band either. They stood all rather lifeless on the stage. The drummer wasn’t even visible as he sat completely hidden behind the backdrop! So what was left to enjoy was their music and to be honest I had heard enough after 2 songs. I left the tent somewhat disillusioned and decided to opt for some supper and a cold brewski.
I’ve seen Symphony X perform over a dozen times in the past 20+ years and they’ve never disappointed me. The show at FortaRock is certainly not an exception to this rule; as a matter of fact, Symphony X and especially Sir Russell Allen (what a personality!) dominated the main stage as if they were the actual headliners on this festival. From the opener ,,Iconoclast” to the last song ,,Set The World On Fire (The Lie Of Lies)”, the band held the audience within its grip with their refined mix of neo-classical metal and progressive metal.
Because of its tenth year anniversary of ‘Night Is The New Day’, Katatonia decided to perform this breakthrough album, integral in the tent on FortaRock. This was something I didn’t want to miss out, so I had to make the difficult decision to skip the show by Dutch krautrockers Monomyth in Hank’s Garage altogether and that’s unfortunate since I’m a huge fan of Monomyth’s instrumental psychedelic space rock as well. I understood afterwards that the Monomyth show received a lot of praise and admiration from the people who saw them and that didn’t surprise me at all since I have never seen a disappointing show from Monomyth. Anyways, back to the Katatonia show. Jonas Renkse and his associates were in great spirits to overwhelm the tent crowd with their introverted, compelling and melancholic sound. In between the songs, there was even time to crack a joke and throw a sneer at former band member Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth when Jonas said; ”We know it’s a Sunday. We know it’s Katatonia on stage… But it could also be worse… It could be also a Monday with Opeth… playing songs exclusively from their last three albums…”. For me personally, this Katatonia show was one of the highlights of this festival day who ended their set, completely in style, with an unparalleled cover of Judas Priest‘s ,,The Night Comes Down”.
No shortage of power metal on this second festival day of FortaRock. In addition to Gloryhammer, fans of this genre could once again indulge themselves at the energetic Hammerfall show that took place at the main stage. I literally cringe when I listened to that much dime-a-dozen cliches and watched the overdose of clearly choreographed rock poses that Hammerfall displayed within the timeframe of one hour but the majority of the public seemed to enjoy the show, nonetheless. Hammerfall show was flawless but, just like the Gloryhammer show, certainly not my cup of tea.
For the last time during this edition of FortaRock, I defied the sultry heat that still lingered in the festival tent to witness the instrumental progressive metal by Animals As Leaders. I find it rather odd that Animals As Leaders closed the day in the tent. In that respect, I think Katatonia was much better suited to take this place on the bill. But anyways; Animals As Leaders convinced the audience, including me, with their unique hodgepodge of prog, djent and fusion. After hearing a few songs, I decided to head down to the ever cosy Hank’s Garage-tent to watch the Dutch band, Temple Fang. I’m glad that I did because Temple Fang, who was advertised in the program as ‘the best kept (hard)rock secret in the Netherlands’, immediately overwhelmed me upon my arrival in Hank’s Garage. The sheer amount of energy that Temple Fang unleashed onto the stage was staggering! The music of Temple Fang can best be described as a “violent psychedelic acid trip that has gone wrong” or “Hawkwind on Speed”. Eye-catcher was the hyperactive bass player who seemed to have multiple seizures during the show! Temple Fang was the discovery of this edition of FortaRock for me and I hope to see this band again soon! Highly recommended!
Animals As Leaders
The prospects seemed too good to be true when the celebrated Swedish Vikings of Amon Amarth conquered the main stage at 9:45 pm. Ok, the black curtain that was hung in front of the podium fell too soon, just before the show started and was in hindsight a waste of time for the road crew to bother with but this was the only slight blemish on the phenomenal production and performance that Amon Amarth unleashed onto the FortaRock audience. That is until Thor interfered with the show… The sudden rain heralded, during the song ,,Guardians Of Asgaard”, the abrupt ending of the Amon Amarth show and thus the entire festival. The festival site was immediately cleared, for the safety of the public, as heavy rain and thunderstorms headed to the Goffert Park. Many people were baffled by this decision but I think it was a wise decision by the organization as lightning and open fields normally don’t mix very well.
This abrupt end was in stark contrast to the wonderful experience that I and many other festival visitors experienced during this weekend. My compliments go to the organization that, despite all the setbacks, have managed to create an extremely professional, friendly and varied program.
All photos by Rob van Dalen
FORTAROCK DAY 1 here
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